DOH: Gov't still studying return to 'new normal' Alert Level 1 by March

DOH: Gov't still studying return to 'new normal' Alert Level 1 by March
Commuters disembark from a train at a station in Manila on Feb. 16, 2022.
AFP / Ted Aljibe

MANILA, Philippines — With cases around the country going down and vaccination numbers rising, the national government is preparing to shift to Alert Level 1 or the “new normal,” the head of the One Hospital Command Center said Sunday. 

Speaking in an interview aired over DZBB Super Radyo, health undersecretary and treatment czar Leopoldo Vega said that the IATF would mull a shift to Alert Level 1 once more by end-February. The Department of Health has since taken the position that the public will "have to move on and live with the virus."

"We are still looking at the metrics now and they are good, although they are looking good... under Alert Level 1, almost everything is normal but that doesn't mean the virus is gone," he said in Filipino, adding that the relaxing of restrictions should still be done gradually.

"If we are to be downgraded to Alert Level 1, we must have flexible plans in case we are returned to Alert Level 2... We must have something like 'infection forecasting.'"

As of this writing, 80.7 percent of Metro Manila is fully vaccinated. Vega pointed out, however, that only around 20 percent of the Bangsamoro region are fully inoculated. 

"Our next target is 80% of the population at 80 million by June," he said. "There are still some parts of Mindanao that are still difficult to vaccinate after Typhoon Odette."

Trend still downward: OCTA

In a tweet, Dr. Guido David, a fellow of the independent pandemic monitor OCTA Research, noted that the coronavirus numbers in Metro Manila have been "nearly flat the past 3 days."

"Numbers in the NCR are not decreasing as fast as what we wanted...but this should not be a cause for concern," he said. 

The Department of Health reported just 1,923 cases of COVID-19 on Saturday afternoon, only 392 of which were from the National Capital Region. "This shows that the trend is still downward," David said. 

Of that number, 74 cases were from the City of Manila while 67 were from Quezon City. Parañaque also had 41. No other city in the Metro breached 40 cases. 

A number of Metro Manila's COVID-19 indicators — namely the reproduction number and healthcare utilization rate — were classified as "very low" as of Friday. 

Of note, the positivity rate as of February 18 was at a moderate risk six percent, getting close to the World Health Organization's recommendation of five percent for opening economies. 

Among provinces and regions in the country, Cebu and Davao Del Sur recorded 131 and 101, respectively. No other area had more than 100. 

Franco Luna 


As It Happens
LATEST UPDATE: June 15, 2022 - 5:31pm

President Rodrigo Duterte signs Executive Order No. 151 adopting the alert level system for nationwide rollout.

Under the order, the alert level system will be implemented in four phases.

  • Phase 1: NCR, Central Luzon, CALABARZON, Central Visayas, Davao region
  • Phase 2: Ilocos, Eastern Visayas, Northern Mindanao
  • Phase 3: Cagayan, Bicol, Zamboanga Peninsula

— Main photo: AFP/Ted Aljibe

June 15, 2022 - 5:31pm

Malacañang announces that Metro Manila will remain under the most lenient Alert Level 1 from June 16 to 30 despite an uptick in COVID-19 infections in the capital region. — The STAR/Alexis Romero

April 13, 2022 - 9:03am

Metro Manila will remain under Alert Level 1 from April 16 to 30, Malacañang announces.

April 6, 2022 - 5:08pm

President Rodrigo Duterte says he won't lift the alert levels yet because other areas are still grappling with pandemic infections.

"You know almost everyone wants to go back to zero or (Alert Level) 1. That cannot be because some areas still have (infections). Until such time that we only have one or two (cases) all over the country, Alert Level 1 would still be a good, like a buffer for us," Duterte says.

"Let us not lift that first until we are very sure that everything is really all right especially in our area because it would reinfect and reinfect and then there is a new mutant, we might have problems," he adds. — Alexis Romero

March 31, 2022 - 5:58pm

Metro Manila will remain under the most lenient Alert Level 1 until April 15, acting presidential spokesman Martin Andanar says. — The STAR/Alexis Romero


February 27, 2022 - 4:12pm

Metro Manila, 38 other areas to be placed under the most lenient Alert Level 1 or "new normal" starting March 1, IATF spokesman Karlo Nograles says

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